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Ann Surg Oncol. 2014 Jun;21(6):1834-40. doi: 10.1245/s10434-014-3526-8. Epub 2014 Feb 8.

A critical analysis of postoperative morbidity and mortality after laparoscopic radiofrequency ablation of liver tumors.

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  • 1Department of Endocrine Surgery, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH, USA.



Although the laparoscopic approach provides certain advantages over the percutaneous radiofrequency thermal ablation (RFA), the morbidity needs to be defined. The aim of this study is to analyze the morbidity and underlying risk factors after laparoscopic RFA of liver tumors.


Between 1996 and 2012, 910 patients underwent 1,207 RFA procedures for malignant liver tumors in a tertiary academic center. The 90-day morbidity and mortality were extracted from a prospective IRB-approved database. Statistical analyses were performed using regression, t, and χ (2) tests.


Complications occurred in 50 patients (4 %) and were gastrointestinal in 13 patients (1.1 %), infections in 10 (0.8 %), hemorrhagic in 9 (0.7 %), urinary in 7 (0.6 %), cardiac in 4 (0.3 %), pulmonary in 3 (0.3 %), hematologic in 2 (0.2 %), and neurologic in 2 (0.2 %). The complication rates for an RFA done alone (5 %) versus concomitantly with ancillary procedure (6 %) were similar (p = .6). In all patients who developed postoperative bleeding from the liver, the ablations had been performed on lesions located in the right posterior sector. Of 9 patients with bleeding, 5 (55 %) required a laparotomy. Also, 60 % of liver abscesses occurred in patients with a prior bilioenteric anastomosis (BEA). The 90-day mortality was 0.4 % (n = 5). Hospital stay was 1.2 ± 0.1 days and was prolonged to 4.4 ± 0.3 days in case of complications.


This study describes the morbidity and mortality to be expected after a laparoscopic RFA procedure. Our results show that additional caution should be used to prevent bleeding complications in patients with tumors located in the right posterior sector and infections in patients with a history of BEA.

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